Professor Michael Osborne, delivers Keynote at 14th PASCAL Conference

Professor Michael Osborne, delivers Keynote at 14th PASCAL Conference

Issued: Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:38:00 BST

With contributions from our honorary staff, Professor Josef Konvitz and Dr Rob Mark, as well as Professor Mike Osborne, the 14th PASCAL conference hosted by the Belgian Campus ITveristy and the University of Johannesburg was held from 16-19 October 2017. At the end of the event Professor Osborne presented the PASCAL Pretoria Statement concerning the roles of universities and regions working together co-operative in the future.

The second keynote was delivered by Professor Michael Osborne, Director of Research and Chair of Adult and Lifelong Learning, School of Education University of Glasgow, UK, with the title: “Sustainable, healthy learning cities and neighbourhoods”.
Urbanisation can help drive sustainable development. However, within cities, poverty and inequalities are at their most acute, and in lower- and middle-income countries, rapid growth due to rural-urban migration poses challenges of global proportions. Global urban policies for developing countries tend to operate at a very general level; research and understanding of urbanisation are fragmented and mainly focused on the conditions and life in slum areas. We know very little about the social, economic and physical structures of fast growing cities in developing countries and how they are changing, especially at neighbourhood level. Apart from slums, there are many different types of urban neighbourhoods emerging in fast growing cities. Some are successful and sustainable, which offers inspiration for slum dwellers. One approach to the dualities of urbanisation recognises the complex inter-relationships between sustainable cities, education and health, at the level of the urban neighbourhood. Sustainable cities depend on a population with the resilience and resources that health brings, and on relevant learning. Michael Osborne further explored this in the context of emerging work in the UK, China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Africa.

PASCAL 2017 Pretoria Statement – 19 October 2017

This statement has been derived from discussions at the 14th PASCAL Observatory conference in Pretoria, hosted by the Belgium Campus iTversity and the University of Johannesburg. The conference considered future trends regarding the role of universities in developing our societies.


  • Cities/regions should demand from universities, graduates who can contribute to local and global challenges, particularly those expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Lifelong learning underpins all of the SDGs. This includes entrepreneurship skills, which is more than simply creating new jobs: it has a social dimension: it means taking responsibility.
  • Happiness and well-being should be objectives of development with strategies adopted that bring meaning and purpose into people’s lives through activities such as volunteering, and empowering individuals and communities.
  • The enhancement of cultural relations between cities is a path to a sustainable world.
  • Universities have a duty to lead the fight against the deliberate propagation of ignorance, and promote in the curricula the learning of how to read and interpret new media sources.
  • Leaders of change are the minority in both universities and their stakeholder organisations. Working collectively these leaders can convince others in their organisations of the merits of partnership.
  • PASCAL, working with UNESCO, can support cities aspiring to become learning cities, offering systematic means to benchmark current performance and support its enhancement.
  • PASCAL will support UNESCO in the implementation of the Cork Call for Action to create green, healthy learning cities, enhance inclusion and equity, and provide decent work.
  • Through systematic needs assessment of communities, businesses, universities and local/regional government, PASCAL can provide guidance and facilitate collaboration and partnership.
  • PASCAL can strengthen local sustainability and vitality by supporting the development of local enterprises.
  • PASCAL’s Learning City Network must be sustained in order provide a platform for inter-cultural, inter-disciplinary and international exchange between cities.
  • PASCAL in its observatory role, in co-operation with its subscribers, can collect and analysis cases of good practice between universities and cities/regions.
  • PASCAL will assess its progress in meeting the above goals in 2018 at the 15th conference in Suwon, Korea.



Michael Osborne

Professor of Adult and Lifelong Learning and Director of Research, University of Glasgow

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